What Are the Causes of Numb Fingertips?

Typing on a keyboard can be hard on the wrists, possibly aggravating carpal tunnel problems and causing numb fingertips.
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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 20 July 2014
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There are several potential causes of numb fingertips, most of which include either damage to the nerves that supply this area of the body or a loss of blood flow to the fingers. Possible causes include multiple sclerosis, carpal tunnel syndrome or peripheral neuropathy, along with frostbite, low potassium levels or the repetitive use of tools that vibrate. Panic attacks, leprosy, shingles or a pinched nerve might also cause numbness in the fingers. Anyone who experiences numb fingers without knowing the cause should speak to a doctor or other medical professional.

Multiple sclerosis is one of the leading causes of numb fingertips. This is an inflammatory disease that causes the protective coating surrounding the nerves to become damaged. A wide range of neurological symptoms might develop as a result of this disease, including sporadic or permanent numbness that affects the extremities.

Carpal tunnel syndrome and peripheral neuropathy can also cause numbness in the hands. In most cases, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by prolonged repetitive use of the fingers, and it is particularly common among people whose vocations require a lot of typing. Peripheral neuropathy might occur when the nerves become damaged by such things as infection, traumatic injuries, exposure to toxic chemicals or medical conditions such as diabetes.

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"Frostbite" is a term that is used to describe skin and tissue damage that occurs as the result of exposure to extremely cold temperatures. This is one of the more serious causes of numb fingertips, because the ends of the fingers might need to be amputated if this condition is not treated right away. Leprosy is caused by a severe type of bacterial infection and requires several months or even years of intensive antibiotic therapy. Shingles is a type of viral infection that is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, and it often requires lengthy treatment with steroids as well as antiviral medications.

Low potassium levels or the development of a pinched nerve are possible reasons for the fingertips to become numb. Simple blood tests can confirm the presence of low potassium levels, and this condition usually is treated relatively easily with nutritional therapy. A compressed nerve, more commonly referred to as a pinched nerve, occurs when too much pressure is placed on a particular nerve in the body. This can occur because of overuse, traumatic injury or repetitive movement.

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Discuss this Article

candyquilt
Post 3

It's interesting how one thing often leads to another. During my first pregnancy, I had pre-eclampsia. In other words, my blood pressure was constantly high which led to water retention. I gained weight in general, but I was also very swollen.

Then, the swelling around my wrist caused compression of nerves there. I started experiencing severe finger numbness and tingling, as well as pins and needles. It's a horrible feeling to be pregnant and to be going through all this.

I went to the doctor who after a physical examination and listening to my symptoms diagnosed me with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. After I gave birth, everything resolved itself out. My blood pressure returned to normal, the swelling went away and so did Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. But only God knows what I went through those nine months.

serenesurface
Post 2

@alisha-- I think that's fairly normal.

Cold makes our blood vessels contract which reduces blood flow and causes numbness in toes and fingertips. Some people are more sensitive to cold than others.

You just need to keep yourself warm. Make sure to wear thick socks and protective shoes in the cold. Wear gloves and use heat packs for your hands when you're outside.

discographer
Post 1

I've never had frostbite but I've noticed that when I'm out in the cold, the tips of my fingers and toes start to go numb after about five minutes. Why is this?

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